Every document you read will tell you that copyright is automatic upon the creation of an original work. If you’ve written it, you own it. That may be true, but unless you’ve registered the copyright, you lack the legal power you would have with copyright registration.
You do not need to register the copyright of a work to have it protected by law, but you have many benefits with a registered work. In most countries, the fact that a work is regsitered provides evidence to courts of law that you are the copyright owner. And even better, most countries will pay legal fees and court costs to copyright owners if the work was registered within three months of being published, or if it was registered three months before a copyright infringement case.
Registration costs anywhere from $35 – $50 US, or the equivalent, in most countries.
In order for your song to enjoy the protection offered by copyright and registration, it needs to be in what is termed a fixed or tangible medium. If you compose a song, and sing it in the local tavern without having written it down or recorded it, you are on shaky ground. If you do not have the ability to write your song (music and lyrics) in musical notation, make a recording.
It is not necessary for a new work to have a copyright symbol (©) to have copyright protection, and you need to know that including a copyright notice at the bottom of your creation offers you no legal advantage. But it does allow others to see that you claim to be the author, and intend to protect your rights.
Another useful phrase to use on your copyrighted material is “All Rights Reserved.” Although, like the copyright notice, this provides no legal power or protection, it demonstrates to others that you intend to require others to seek your permission to use your songs. The most powerful tool you have as a writer is copyright registration.
An inexpensive way to register the copyright of your songs is to put them into written form (music and lyrics), bundle them together in a “book”, and then register the copyright of that book. You will pay only one registration fee, but all the songs in that collection will have the legal protection of your government’s copyright office.
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” shows you how to write great songs. It’s just one of a suite of 6 songwriting e-books written by Gary Ewer. (His newest e-book, “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting- Chord Progression Formulas” is being offered for free when you purchase any other of his songwriting e-books.) Let these six e-books show you every aspect of how to write great songs! Read more..